While most people fix wires by just wrapping them together, you can lose quality and strength that way. When joining cables – audio or not – soldering will make a huge difference, and here’s how to do it properly.
Broken Cables and Soldering
Broken audio cables of all kinds can be fixed pretty easily and painlessly with a little time and a touch of solder. Small, cheap cables are expendable, but nicer cables – especially those attached to expensive equipment – aren’t as easy to just throw out. In general, thicker cables are easier to fix without a drop in quality and also require a more powerful iron to solder with. Thinner cables require more care and you risk damaging them if you’re not careful.
Many people wonder if soldering is important. When it comes to digital cables, skipping the soldering won’t hurt your quality, but it will affect your cable strength. For analog audio, soldering is an absolute must, otherwise the quality will degrade quite a bit. There’s no real reason not to solder; you’re getting better quality, better cable strength, and ensuring longevity. This is absolutely imperative when you want a solid connection for things like your car stereo, where vibrations and bumps can shake things loose.
Be sure to check out How to Use a Soldering Iron: A Beginner’s Guide if you’re not sure what exactly to do one, but it’s pretty easy and straightforward as long as you’re careful.
Cutting and Joining Wires
Start by isolating the damaged area of your cable.
Cut that portion out of your cable, and start stripping the wires.
If you plan on using heat-shrink tubes, now is the time to slip them on the wires. My cable’s small, so I’ll stick to electrical tape.
Again, depending on what kind of cable you’ve got, this may be more or less of a chore. the main thing to remember is that you want to keep track of which wire is which, and you want room. My cables are pretty small, so I’ve got an 1-2” of stripped wire to work with. Cross one set of wires.
Twist the end of one wire around the other wire, and vice versa.
Try to get a good, firm wrap without knotting things up and perhaps causing the metal to break.
When you’re ready, heat the joint and add some solder.
You can see that I’ve added a bit too much solder to the joint. You don’t need so much, just enough to fix the joint and get a good connection.
Lather, rinse, and repeat with the other wires. Take care to join matching colors, otherwise you may end up with unintended consequences.
Electrical Tape or Heat-Shrink Tubing
You can coat the unshielded portions of the wires in some electrical tape, and then wrap the joint as well. For larger cables and when strength really matters, you may want to look into heat-shrink tubing.
“Heat-shrink” is plastic tubing that will shrink tightly over joints and ends when heat is applied through a heat gun. If you have a really powerful hair dryer, that may suffice as well.
Above, you can see various sizes of “solder seal heat-shrink.” When applied with a heat gun, the special solder will melt at a relatively low temperature and bond with your joint. It’s made to be a one-step solution, but the solder quality can vary.
Heat-shrink provides a professional touch and can really help keep your cables strong, but be sure to thread it onto your wires or cable before you start soldering. In basic applications, though, electrical tape wrappings work fine. Either way, make sure that all your wires (except for the ground) are covered. You don’t want to short anything or have mixed signals by having them touch!
A little solder can go a long way when fixing cables. It’s especially important when you’re working on your car’s speakers and the like, since easier methods can come undone so quickly. Soldering won’t give out due to vibrations and bumps, and heat-shrink will give you that professional touch.
Have any cable fixing tips or stories? Share them in the comments!
Fiber optic cable can be accidentally damaged, cut or smashed. According to the Electronic Technicians Association, one of the main cause of optical fiber failure is “backhoe fade” , during which the optical fiber cable is cut or damaged while digging. For this occasion, you can easily look for backhoe and get the cut cable. However, if it is caused by moles, it will likely be difficult to troubleshoot it. On the flip side, it means that the cost to repair fiber optic cable might be a little bit expensive because of the equipment involved. Here are a few tools and steps suggested for you to repair broken fiber optic cable.
Fiber Optic Cable Repair Kits That You May Need
(1) OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer)
The OTDR is widely used for the measurement of fiber length, transmission attenuation, joint attenuation and fault location. For more information about OTDR, please refer to Working Principle and Characteristics of OTDR.
(2) Fiber Optic Cutter / Stripper
Fiber optic cable cutter and fiber optic stripper are important tools in the fiber optic splicing and some other fiber optic cable cutting applications.
(3) High Precision Fiber Optic Cleaver
Fiber optic cleaver is used to cut the fiberglass for fusion splicing, also ideal for preparing fiber for pre-polished connectors to make a good end face. So it is very important in the fiber splicing process, and it usually works together with the fusion splicer to meet the end needs.
(4) Fusion Splicer
Fiber optic fusion splicer may be the act of joining two optical fibers end-to-end using heat. The machine is to fuse both the fibers together in such a way that light passing with the fibers is not scattered or reflected back from the splice.
Steps to Repair Fiber Optic Cable
Step 1: Use OTDR to Identify the Break in Fiber Optic Cable
The first thing you need to do is to look for the break in your fiber optic cables. Commonly, the fiber-optic technicians utilize a device which is known as an OTDR. With the ability to work like radar which sends a light pulse right down to the optical fiber cable. It will be deflected to your device when it encounters break. It helps technician know the position of the break.
Step 2: Use Fiber Optic Cutter to Cut Out the Damaged Fiber Optic Cable
After knowing the location of the break, you should dig up the fiber optic cables with the break. The fiber optic cutter is used to cut out the damaged section.
Step 3: Strip the Fiber Optic Cable by Fiber Optic Stripper
You should use fiber optic stripper to strip the fiber on the both end and peel the jacket gently to expose the fiber-optic tube inside. Then, cut any sheath and yarn by fiber optic cutting tools.
Step 4: Trim Any Damage on the Optical Fiber Ends by High Precision Fiber Cleaver
The following picture lists the main 6 steps for fiber cleaving by high precision fiber cleaver.
Step 5: Clean the Striped Fiber Optic Cable
This step is crucial to ensure that your terminal will get a clean wire strip. You have to clean the stripped fiber with alcohol and lint-free wipes. Ensure that the fiber doesn’t touch anything.
Step 6: Splice the Fiber Optic Cable
Generally, there are two methods to splice optical fiber cable: (1) mechanical splicing; (2) fusion splicing.
(1) Mechanical Splicing
If you want to produce a mechanical connection, you need to put inline splice quick-connect fiber-optic connectors to the fiber. Hold the two fiber ends in a precisely aligned position thus enabling light to pass from one fiber into the other. (Typical loss: 0.3 dB)
(2) Fusion Splicing
In fusion splicing, a fusion splicer is used to precisely align the two fiber ends. You have to convey a fusion splice protector to the fiber, and place the fibers which is spliced within the fusion splicer. Then, the fiber ends are “fused” or “welded” together using some type of heat or electric arc. This produces a continuous connection between the fibers enabling very low loss light transmission. (Typical loss: 0.1 dB)
Step 7: Perform the Connection Test of Fiber Optic Cable with OTDR
The very last thing would be to see the connection of fiber-optic using the OTDR. Then put back those splices into the splice enclosure. Close the enclosure after which rebury the fiber optic cables.
Fiber Optic Cable Repair Kit Price
|OTDR||FOTR-202 Handheld OTDR with FC/SC Connector||$ 1,000.00|
|Fiber Optic Cutter||Fiber Optic Kevlar Cutter||$ 21.00|
|Fiber Optic Stripper||FO 103-T-250-J Original Miller Triple Holes Fiber Optic Stripper||$ 110.00|
|High Precision Fiber Optic Cleaver||FS-08C High Precision Fiber Optic Cleaver||$ 110.00|
|Fusion Splicer||DVP-740 Mini FTTx Fusion Splicer||$ 3,000.00|
The failure of optical fiber cable will lead to a interruption for data transmission, so to fix the damaged optical cable in time is an important task. After going through the steps for repairing the fiber optic cable, you may wonder whether you should chose the mechanical splicing or fusion splicing. Here the suggestion is if the price is not a factor, you should go with fusion splicing since the signal loss is low. If you have a tight budget, you can consider mechanical splicing, which doesn’t requires an expensive tool.